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Interesting student observation

Posted by phourigan on May 4, 2010

After attending a conference or a workshop, I frequently try some of the ideas out on my 7th grade advisory.  The boys (my school is all boys) love giving their feedback and a lot of the time it’s very useful.

They typically love the ideas that come out of all these Web 2.0 workshops and can’t wait to investigate Challenge Based Learning.  They’re under the impression that learning will be more fun and engaging in that environment, and I agree.

This morning I talked about one of Alan November’s recommendations (for lack of a better word) that I have had reservations about ever since reading about similar models in other schools: the idea that we invert the school day, having students listen to lecture at home and complete “homework” problems in class.  In theory, this is a great idea.  The boys all related stories of times they’d been stymied by their homework and couldn’t complete it.  Coming in the next day, the teacher was frustrated by this backward step and couldn’t move forward until everyone caught up on the understanding of the homework.

But one boy right away saw the critical flaw in this model.  He said, “We’re already in school for eight hours.  I don’t have eight hours to listen to lectures at home.”  It reminded me that the reason we continue to stick to our current model of lecture at school and homework at home is because the reinforcement of the skill takes less time than the introduction of the skill.

I don’t think our curriculum should be based on the idea of saving time, but what he said does make sense.  It underscores the kind of revolution that has to happen in education to take advantage of what technology can do for learning.

Alan November said something to the effect of, “Kids still have to come to school for things like sports, arts and socialization,” when an audience member asked if he was advocating for 100% distance learning.  I was surprised to hear this, since the arts are the core of the creative process of learning (a la Daniel Pink) and don’t require physical attendance at school.

Same with socialization – on the one hand, face to face communication and problem solving is extremely useful.  On the other, kids today must be able to represent themselves well (and assertively, fairly, responsibly, resolve conflicts, etc.) online to a much greater extent than just a few years ago.

In summary, until we completely overhaul education and use exploration as the building block, we’re only going to be tacking on eight hours of lecture after an eight hour school day.


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